Fertile ground

Canberra Times

Canberra has become a mecca for ''reproductive tourists'', with Australians desperate to start a family coming to the capital for fertility treatments too difficult or impossible to secure in their state. Sperm and eggs are almost exclusively imported from the US as a result of the critical shortage of donors in Canberra, leaving would-be parents with a hefty bill. It contributes to a flourishing global medical tourism market worth more than $20billion a year and projected to grow by 35 per cent a year. Long-time Canberra fertility specialist Martyn Stafford-Bell believed the ACT had the ''most liberal'' laws in the country, proving a drawcard for so-called reproductive tourists.

Gay marriage, adoption on Vic ALP agenda

Herald Sun

Victoria's Labor Party will face off with prime minister Julia Gillard when it puts motions supporting gay marriage and same-sex adoption to its state conference on Saturday. Ms Gillard, who does not support gay marriage, will be a keynote speaker at the Melbourne conference where Daniel Andrews will make his first state conference speech as Victorian Labor leader. The motion on gay marriage calls on the ALP national conference in December to incorporate support for gay marriage in the party's policy platform.

Queensland porn ring smashed: police arrest 21

The Australian

One of the world's largest child pornography rings, based on the Gold Coast, has been smashed by Queensland police, leading to the rescue of 29 children and the arrest of an alleged internet porn kingpin. Queensland police yesterday revealed details of the 16-month Operation Gatekeeper, which dismantled a massive pornography website, resulting in the seizure of more than 307,000 illegal images and the arrest of at least 21 Australians on child exploitation charges. In January last year, police raided the home of a 23-year-old Gold Coast man who had been remotely operating a Netherlands-based website found to house more than 44,000 different child pornography pictures posted by various users.

Brown staffers join the media war

The Australian

Staff of Greens leader Bob Brown have taken his fight with the media to Twitter. In a series of tweets yesterday, Senator Brown's director of media, Marion Rae, attacked members of the Canberra press gallery personally, while also saying newspapers in which her boss appeared and even wrote for were good for soaking up cat pee. She posted a photograph of The Australian's James Massola, with the caption: "There's a hypertroll outside the window." Of the ABC's Chris Uhlmann, she said: "Some are born great, some become great and others have talented wives, eh mate?"

Coptics gather to protest against Cairo violence

The Australian

More than 5000 Coptic Christians are expected to gather in Sydney's CBD today in protest over the growing violence against the religious sect in Cairo. Reports from Cairo say Coptic women and girls have been targeted in a recent spate of kidnappings, rapes and forced conversions to Islam, prompting today's protest in Sydney. The Australian Coptic community is calling on the Australian government to push for UN recognition of human rights abuses against their people in Egypt.

UK author James Fergusson advocates sharia law in West

The Australian

After championing the cause of the Taliban, British author James Fergusson has found another cause: the need for Western legal systems to incorporate at least some of the principles of sharia. "Properly and correctly applied, sharia has the potential to be extremely humane and flexible in a way that the common law does not," he said. Fergusson was speaking in Sydney, where he was promoting his most recent book, Taliban, at the Sydney Writers Festival.

Chaplaincy program participants beyond a prayer

The Australian

By allocating $222 million in funding for the school chaplaincy program the federal government sent a strong message in the budget: God matters. But who is doing the teaching about the Almighty? The budget fillip, funding chaplains in up to 3700 schools until 2014, is just part of the story, and that story is Christianity. The provision of funding is open to all faiths, but the overwhelming numbers of chaplains are Christian. It is not going too far to say that religious instruction in schools reflects a Christian hegemony. It does not reflect the diverse and multi-faith nature of Australian society. It should.

No place for sharia law here

Barnaby Joyce - The Australian

Let me put my cards on the table. Women can wear what they like to the beach so long as they're wearing something. I enjoy having a beer with my mates at Sydney's Watto Bay pub where we can talk about God's beautiful creations as they walk by. I take people as they come and, call me old-fashioned if you like, but I quite like the idea that we are all equal before the law. But sometimes naivete in Australia knows no bounds and when I hear someone justifying the introduction of sharia law while enjoying the benefits of the rights this country recognises I get upset. Our grandads did not fight for some religious, unelected body to impose themselves on my freedom, stone adulterers or create a stratified society. I know this is a Judeo-Christian society and I respect that when I go to Saudi Arabia it is not.

It's a sure thing: Australians are far ahead in the gambling world

Colin Kruger - SMH

When the Australian Securities and Investments Commission quietly dropped its opposition this week to betting on interest rate moves it raised the odds of the lucky country continuing an unwanted winning streak. The latest edition of The Economist ranks Australians as the world's biggest gamblers per capita, spending the equivalent of €902 ($1208.75) each last year. ''Australia has led for the past decade, since we started doing this, and has always been well ahead of the other nations,'' said Joel Keeble of H2 Gambling Capital, which provided the British publication's data.

Children saved in porn raids


Four children from NSW are among 29 victims of child abuse rescued after a crackdown on one of the world's largest child pornography websites. An 11-year-old Brisbane boy, eight children in Russia, five in Mexico and others in Britain were also rescued. Queensland police tracked the website for more than a year, covertly gathering the internet addresses of 21,000 site users - 1000 of them in Australia - and arrested its alleged mastermind on the Gold Coast. Twenty-one people have been charged with 86 offences in Queensland, mostly possession of child pornography and using a carriage service to view illegal material.

Violence Overshadows Re-opening Of Egypt Churches


The re-opening of churches that had been closed under ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is overshadowed by violence, rights activists said Friday, May 20. In one of the latest incidents Thursday, May 19, a Muslim mob tried to block Christians approaching the Church of the Virgin in the Cairo neighborhood of Ain Shams, advocacy group Middle East Concern (MEC) told BosNewsLife. Nearby, rioters tried to storm the Mar Mina Church, but were halted by Christians who formed a human shield around the church and fought for hours, witnesses said. Fifteen people were reportedly killed and more than 200 injured in the riots. While Muslims and Christians, also known as Copts in Egypt, demonstrated together against Mubarak's rule, church leaders have expressed concerns that more hard-line Muslim leaders will replace his regime or at least have a prominent voice in a new government to be formed after scheduled elections later this year.